Does your child want to eat his vegetables? Researchers have solved this simple problem

Up to about 2 years of age, most children adopt new foods, although they may try hard to get used to them. Then, and sometimes over the years, many children become more “difficult”. So it is not uncommon for some of them to stay away from food family, especially vegetables. So they need to change their minds by experimenting with different vegetables and different shapes: raw, cooked, salad, chewable sticks … in Gratin. But for the most reluctant children, a team of researchers at the University of Maastricht has unveiled at the European Congress (May 4-7) on obesity in Maastricht, the Netherlands, a strategy that could help many parents. Their research shows that young children are more likely to eat more vegetables if they are rewarded in a humorous way after at least trying.

While this study may seem futile, it is actually important because a healthy daily diet can reduce the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. However, this good habit acquired from childhood is often preserved and reproduced in adults. But, as many parents know, young children often do not like to see green vegetables on their plates. “ It is important to start eating vegetables at an early age. Researcher Britt Van Belkom explained. ” We know from previous research that kids usually have to try eight to ten times before choosing a new vegetable. So we searched to see if they would be more willing to eat vegetables if they were repeatedly asked to do so. We also wanted to know if offering a fun prize would make a difference. A

“Rewarding children for tasting vegetables increases their desire to try different things.”

To conduct the study, 598 children between the ages of 1 and 4 were enrolled in nurseries in Limburg, the Netherlands, in the “The Vegetable Box” program. The latter were randomly assigned to three groups: vegetables with an award, vegetables without an award, and a control group which has none. Except for the first two groups who tasted a number of vegetables every day for three months, the kids in the “prize” group received a fun, non-food prize, such as a sticker, right after. Knowledge of vegetables was measured at the beginning and end of the study: the researchers showed each child 14 different vegetables (tomato, lettuce, cucumber, carrot, black pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) and asked how many names they could give them. . Also, their desire to taste each of these vegetables was measured.

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At the beginning and end of the study, children were given the opportunity to taste the bites of six vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, radishes and cauliflower) while the researchers calculated how much they would like to taste. During the pre-test in the control group, children could identify about 8 vegetables and after the test, this number increased to about 10. For the other two groups, during the pre-test, the children could identify about 9 vegetables and then 11 of them. For the desire to try vegetables, the highest score was 12 (children ate two bites of six different vegetables). During the pre-test, they were willing to try about 5-6 vegetables in all groups. But at the end of the study, this rate decreased in the control group, remained unchanged in the group of children who did not receive the award, and increased to 7 in those who received one.

The scientific team guessed thus Regularly giving vegetables to the children in the nursery greatly enhances their ability to recognize different vegetables. But rewarding kids for tasting vegetables seems to increase their desire to try different vegetables.. In his conclusion, he stressed the importance that the type of reward given to children must be fun, but not sweet food, at the risk of counter-productive effects. It should be noted that the “eat and move” program reminds us that it is up to the parents to set an example. Indeed, eating is a contagious pleasure and children reproduce the behaviors they observe. “By putting more vegetables on the family menu, including siblings, we show (and say) to our child that we like it. A way to inspire everyone. “, The latter recommends.

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